The first installment in her new Hellhound Chronicles series, Black Dog by Caitlin Kittredge is of the same exceptional quality that I’ve come to expect after reading her Nocturne City (werewolves and other supernatural beings) and Black London (magic, spirits, demons) series. Always providing a fresh and unique perspective on commonly used tropes and archetypes, Ms. Kittredge herself weaves her own sort of magic with words on the page. Grab a copy from your preferred retailer on October 28, and get ready to follow Ava as she tries to escape the grasp of Hell.
The first installment in a fabulous dark urban fantasy series—think Kill Bill with demons and gangsters instead of martial arts—from the award-winning author of the Iron Codex trilogy and Vertigo comic Coffin Hill
Ava has spent the last hundred years as a hellhound, the indentured servant of a reaper who hunts errant souls and sends them to Hell. When a human necromancer convinces her to steal her reaper’s scythe, Ava incurs the wrath of the demon Lilith, her reaper’s boss.
As punishment for her transgression, Lilith orders Ava to track down the last soul in her reaper’s ledger . . . or die trying.
But after a hundred years of servitude, it’s time for payback. And Hell hath no fury like an avenging Ava . .
What is it about tortured and flawed characters that draw me in? Ava’s stuck in her own little version of Hell. She’s a Hellhound. As a Reaper’s thug, it’s Ava’s job to hunt down and collect souls that have been bargained away and to turn those souls over to said Reaper. It’s a tough, physically demanding job at which Ava excels. She gets the chance to (maybe) escape the confines of her own bargain, taking off with a dangerous target (and requisite hunky bad boy). I was rooting for Ava from the very beginning. Ava’s dangerous sidekick and necromancer, Leo, was a lot less likeable. Even after finishing the story, I’m still not sure if I like him or not.
An interesting take on heaven, hell, angels, and demons, Black Dog takes these commonly used archetypes and twists the mythos just a little bit. The Pit of Hell is Tartarus, and as Clint says “the Host are the Gestapo of the Kingdom.” There isn’t mention of God, but Lilith is the main villain. All of these interesting bits and pieces combine to form a gratifyingly unique world about which I couldn’t read enough. That’s the biggest take-away for me – a unique, different, and fascinating world I fell into for a few hours.
Once again, I can’t say enough good things about Caitlin Kittredge’s writing style. She creates immensely entertaining worlds and compelling characters that are neither all good nor all bad. The ambiguity makes the characters real, relatable, and sympathetic. Black Dog is the perfect start to a (hopefully) long and happy relationship with the new Hellhound Chronicles series.